Making It a Win-Win

There is a lot of negotiating going on in the world today – some of it good, and some of it not so good. We are seeing a lot of it show up on TV news shows, news sites, and the front pages of the newspapers. There is an art and a science to good negotiating, and whether you are negotiating a cease-fire between countries or between neighbors, here are some tips for you on how to become a better negotiator. (These come from an older book, “Negotiating Rationally,” by Drs. Max Bazerman and Margaret Neale of Northwestern University. It is still in print, and available in eBook format.)

First, it’s important to recognize that everyone negotiates – probably a lot more than we think. It’s pretty obvious when we are buying a house or a car or putting together a business deal. We also negotiate when we want to go out to dinner and our spouse wants to stay home, or when the neighbor wants to put in a chain link fence and we’d prefer a hedge of shrubs.

The first thing that can help your negotiating skills is getting rid of the urge to win at all costs as well as the ineffective belief that if one person “wins,” it means the other has to “lose.” For the most part, winning and losing only get in the way of progress, and then typically everyone loses.

The best solution is one in which each side gives a little and gets something, too. Good negotiators know how to paint a vivid picture of how their proposed solution will benefit both sides, and they focus on gains rather than losses. It’s more influence than transaction.

Good negotiators also know that building trust and sharing information are critical for creating any long-term relationship. Finally, good negotiators have the ability to really put themselves in the other person’s shoes, evaluate alternatives, and think creatively. Can you see yourself negotiating to settle differences in a way that makes everyone a winner?